Mike's Delayed Reaction Review-#311 (3-37), "The Lawndale Files"

MDRR #311 (3-37) Thank You Lord!!!

I Think I'm Paranoid - This isn't the first time that Daria has had bouts of talking to herself (not that most people don't talk to themselves sometimes). This time she keeps this to herself more, which I guess is better if you don't want to look crazy. These intense thoughts were brought on by spending too much time with her family but are more because of paranoia about alien abductions and invasions. Though, I did like her rationalization that the strange lights are stalkers and not aliens (that's really comforting).

Scared Straight - There was some genuine fear in some of the characters that was attributed to the 'aliens.' Staci was afraid to turn her back on Daria out of the fear that her body would be snatched. Trent's jingle all but convinced Jane that there were aliens afoot. But then again, any happy vibes from Trent sets off red flags in her head. And Jake was trembling in his boots over the possibility that Daria might be a Communist. <Segue alert> Speaking of Jake...

Fueling the Fire - You'd think that Quinn would know better than to provoke Jake into a panic like that only 'weeks' after he had a heart attack. First, Daria is a Communist; then she'd an atomic Communist and finally Mr. DeMartino was taken away kicking and screaming. She probably had him started on his own conspiracy theories involving Communist takeovers and the crumble of Capitalism <another lame segue alert> Speaking of conspiracies...

Conspiracy Theory - Jane had the whole deal worked out. She had it figured out why she and Daria were being targeted as suspected aliens. Some unnamed feds come by and tell the kids to look out for weird behavior and odd people; naturally they turn right at Daria and Jane and the rest is history. I would agree with Jane's assessment of alien body takeovers. Why would any intelligent advanced beings want to do some of the stuff that people say that they do?

Lights! Camera! Action! - Almost all of Lawndale was out with their flashlights for various differing reasons, Brittany and Kevin were trying to save the world by following Daria and making out. Mack and Jodie were trying to make sure Brittany and Kevin didn't humiliate themselves (why bother? their very is humiliating). Upchuck was on a mission to become an alien loveslave and Mr. O'Neill was hunting Communists. It turns out that they were all stalking up the wrong tree.

U N I T Y - There was some uncharacteristic solidarity among the Fashion Club through all wearing black turtlenecks and berets. Until Staci, blurted out that it was because of a neck zit and Tiffany identified the 'perpetrator.' No surprise that Sandi let those transgressions slide.

Hey Artie! - Lawndale's resident abductee makes his second appearance. Why would anyone believe a word he says is beyond me. Sick Sad World must not be too discriminating about whom they put on their show; anyone with a weird alien story is practically a shoe-in. The saddest part is that he thought that the aliens caused him to get fired. They sort of did, but only because he keeps talking about them.

Sell Out - Trent sold out! I can't believe it! What's a musician who is gig-less to do? He didn't even do that bad, tires and studio time aren't cheap anymore (though he should've tried for more cash). The only thing is that he needed to make 'happy music' to sell out, which isn't exactly his specialty. No wonder Jane was scared.

The premise of this episode was miscommunication run amok to various degrees. First, we have the confusion over the word 'alien.' Jake and Helen are talking about immigrants while Quinn and Daria mean space aliens (honestly I think of Martians, Klingons, etc.). The other miscommunication that the further removed from the original statement, the more muddled it gets. This was much better than any straight Twilight Zone, alien invasion tale could be. The audience is kept guessing why some of the event of this episode happened. For example, it wasn't clear that Mr. DeMartino was a suspected illegal immigrant and not a Martian. Overall, this episode avoided what I feared most - it didn't turn into another dreamy 'saga,' a la Depth Takes a Holiday. I had fun.

The Bottom Line - Couldn't have asked for better results.

Grade: B+

Daria as a Whole, The Faculty - Miss Barch continues her 'feud' with Mr. DeMartino. She has already pelted him with paintballs, kicked him in the groin and now she apparently tried to have him deported.

Next Week- Something about water…

Copyright © 1999 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved].

"Daria" and all related characters are © 1999 MTV Networks, Inc.